"Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly, do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God." — St. Isidore of Seville
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"When we are living in the world, we can easily take on the mindset of a secular society. It is important for us to cultivate in our lives, with great care, God's way of looking at things and life in general. His Word guides us." — Rev. Thomas J. Donaghy, p. 22 AN EXCERPT FROM Inspirational Thoughts for Everyday
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St. Ephrem of Syria
DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH Feast: June 9
Information: Feast Day: June 9 Born: 306 at Nisibis, Mesopotamia (in modern Syria) Died: 9 June 373 at Edessa (in modern Iraq) Patron of: Spiritual directors and spiritual leaders
Born at Nisibis, then under Roman rule, early in the fourth century; died June, 373. The name of his father is unknown, but he was a pagan and a priest of the goddess Abnil or Abizal. His mother was a native of Amid. Ephraem was instructed in the Christian mysteries by St. James, the famous Bishop of Nisibis, and was baptized at the age of eighteen (or twenty-eight). Thenceforth he became more intimate with the holy bishop, who availed himself of the services of Ephraem to renew the moral life of the citizens of Nisibis, especially during the sieges of 338, 346, and 350. One of his biographers relates that on a certain occasion he cursed from the city walls the Persian hosts, whereupon a cloud of flies and mosquitoes settled on the army of Sapor II and compelled it to withdraw. The adventurous campaign of Julian the Apostate, which for a time menaced Persia, ended, as is well known, in disaster, and his successor, Jovianus, was only too happy to rescue from annihilation some remnant of the great army which his predecessor had led across the Euphrates. To accomplish even so much the emperor had to sign a disadvantageous treaty, by the terms of which Rome lost the Eastern provinces conquered at the end of the third century; among the cities retroceded to Persia was Nisibis (363). To escape the cruel persecution that was then raging in Persia, most of the Christian population abandoned Nisibis en masse. Ephraem went with his people, and settled first at Beit-Garbaya, then at Amid, finally at Edessa, the capital of Osrhoene, where he spent the remaining ten years of his life, a hermit remarkable for his severe asceticism. Nevertheless he took an interest in all matters that closely concerned the population of Edessa. Several ancient writers say that he was a deacon; as such he could well have been authorized to preach in public. At this time some ten heretical sects were active in Edessa; Ephraem contended vigorously with all of them, notably with the disciples of the illustrious philosopher Bardesanes. To this period belongs nearly all his literary work; apart from some poems composed at Nisibis, the rest of his writings-sermons, hymns, exegetical treatises-date from his sojourn at Edessa. It is not improbable that he is one of the chief founders of the theological "School of the Persians", so called because its first students and original masters were Persian Christian refugees of 363. At his death St. Ephraem was borne without pomp to the cemetery "of the foreigners". The Armenian monks of the monastery of St. Sergius at Edessa claim to possess his body.
The aforesaid facts represent all that is historically certain concerning the career of Ephraem. All details added later by Syrian biographers are at best of doubtful value. To this class belong not only the legendary and occasionally puerile traits so dear to Oriental writers, but also others seemingly reliable, e.g. an alleged journey to Egypt with a sojourn of eight years, during which he is said to have confuted publicly certain spokesmen of the Arian heretics. The relations of St. Ephraem and St. Basil are narrated by very reliable authors, e.g. St. Gregory of Nyssa (the Pseudo?) and Sozomen, according to whom the hermit of Edessa, attracted by the great reputation of St. Basil, resolved to visit him at Caesarea. He was warmly received and was ordained deacon by St. Basil; four years later he refused both the priesthood and the episcopate that St. Basil offered him through delegates sent for that purpose to Edessa. Though Ephraem seems to have been quite ignorant of Greek, this meeting with St. Basil is not improbable; some good critics, however, hold the evidence insufficient, and therefore reject it, or at least withhold their adhesion. The life of St. Ephraem, therefore, offers not a few obscure problems; only the general outline of his career is known to us. It is certain, however, that while he lived he was very influential among the Syrian Christians of Edessa, and that his memory was revered by all, Orthodox, Monophysites, and Nestorians. They call him the "sun of the Syrians," the "column of the Church", the "harp of the Holy Spirit". More extraordinary still is the homage paid by the Greeks who rarely mention Syrian writers. Among the works of St. Gregory of Nyssa (P.G., XLVI, 819) is a sermon (though not acknowledged by some) which is a real panegyric of St. Ephraem. Twenty years after the latter's death St. Jerome mentions him as follows in his catalogue of illustrious Christians: "Ephraem, deacon of the Church of Edessa, wrote many works [opuscula] in Syriac, and became so famous that his writings are publicly read in some churches after the Sacred Scriptures. I have read in Greek a volume of his on the Holy Spirit; though it was only a translation, I recognized therein the sublime genius of the man" (De viris illustr., c. cxv). Theodoret of Cyrus also praised his poetic genius and theological knowledge (Hist. Eccl., IV, xxvi). Sozomen pretends that Ephraem wrote 3,000,000 verses, and gives the names of some of his disciples, some of whom remained orthodox, while others fell into heresy (Hist. Eccl., III, xvi). From the Syrian and Byzantine Churches the fame of Ephraem spread among all Christians. The Roman Martyrology mentions him on 1 February. In their menologies and synaxaria Greeks and Russians, Jacobites, Chaldeans, Copts, and Armenians honour the holy deacon of Edessa.
As I begin this prayer, God is present, breathing life into me and into everything around me. For a few moments, I remain silent, and become aware of God's loving presence.
Lord, grant me the grace to be free from the excesses of this life. Let me not get caught up with the desire for wealth. Keep my heart and mind free to love and serve you.
In the presence of my loving Creator, I look honestly at my feelings over the last day, the highs, the lows and the level ground. Can I see where the Lord has been present?
The Word of God
Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 1 Kgs 18:41-46
Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain." So Ahab went up to eat and drink, while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, crouched down to the earth, and put his head between his knees. "Climb up and look out to sea," he directed his servant, who went up and looked, but reported, "There is nothing." Seven times he said, "Go, look again!" And the seventh time the youth reported, "There is a cloud as small as a man's hand rising from the sea." Elijah said, "Go and say to Ahab, 'Harness up and leave the mountain before the rain stops you.'" In a trice the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and a heavy rain fell. Ahab mounted his chariot and made for Jezreel. But the hand of the LORD was on Elijah, who girded up his clothing and ran before Ahab as far as the approaches to Jezreel.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 65:10, 11, 12-13 R. (2a) It is right to praise you in Zion, O God. You have visited the land and watered it; greatly have you enriched it. God's watercourses are filled; you have prepared the grain.
R. It is right to praise you in Zion, O God. Thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods, Softening it with showers, blessing its yield.
R. It is right to praise you in Zion, O God. You have crowned the year with your bounty, and your paths overflow with a rich harvest; The untilled meadows overflow with it, and rejoicing clothes the hills.
R. It is right to praise you in Zion, O God.
Alleluia Jn 13:34 R. Alleluia, alleluia. I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 5:20-26
Jesus said to his disciples: "I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.
"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Jesus starts by showing what he means by bringing the law to its perfection. The new standard is higher than the old, because it deals with our heart and not with the mere external action. It is not enough not to murder your brother; you owe him respect.
▪ Taking part in the liturgy makes sense only if we enjoy good relationships with others: it makes no sense for me to offer my sacrifice when I have problems with my brother. My worship is not a substitute for good behaviour, or a guarantee from the divine judgement: it is rather an expression of what lies in my heart and of my desire to be more loving.
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person Lord. I think I might say "Thank You Lord" for always being there for me. I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Saint Ephrem, Deacon and Doctor of the Church (Optional Memorial)
You fool. (Matthew 5:22)
When it comes to politics, listening to "spin doctors" can be very misleading. They claim that those who support one party are greedy and ignore the poor or that another party is unpatriotic and hates traditional values. But then you meet a supporter and find out it's not really true. That's when you are reminded how harmful labels can be.
Keeping that in mind, you can better understand why Jesus warns his listeners against calling anyone a "fool" (Matthew 5:22). He's not referring only to those hasty remarks we may make in a momentary fit of frustration. He's also talking about labeling someone as basically "bad." It's one thing to call another's actions foolish, but another thing entirely to say that they are a fool. That's when we cross the line from criticizing what they have done and begin attacking them personally. According to Jesus, this is another form of murder; it won't kill them physically, but it could kill them spiritually.
Now, most of us are probably not bad-mouthing other people over and over again. Still, there are times when we are all tempted to speak, or at least think, negatively of our neighbors. Even those we are close to on a daily basis can do things that annoy us. But rather than asking ourselves, "How can I keep from judging 'Person X' today," perhaps the better question to ask is "How can I love this person as Jesus would?"
One answer is to think about how much God loves every single person alive today. Then try applying those thoughts to the specific people with whom you are having a hard time. God has his own labels for them. "You are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you" (Isaiah 43:4). "You are my people" (51:16). "You are my friends" (John 15:14).
If you remember no other label, let this one be printed on your heart: "See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God" (1 John 3:1). Keep that one verse before you, and all other labels will fall away.
"Lord, help me to love all your children, to treat them as I would hope to be treated and to see in them a reflection of your glory."
In the world there are two versions of mercy...man's version, and God's version. I read a scripture sent via text at 6a.m. this morning that was from John3:36 and said "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him". I say this because today's first Holy Scripture is a continuation from yesterday's and there was one part that was skipped, when Elijah commanded all the prophets of Baal to be gathered and slaughtered. Either believe or suffer death. And the death had already been tasted because they were spiritually dead, completely opposed to God's will. And this kind of death brings on physical death. The only way I can try to open this to a simpler understanding is a complete surrender and addiction to drugs, and like so, sin is the drug and is killing the soul. Spiritual death is among those living in sin, a complete knowing that you are not doing God's will, and living and breathing the troubles of life without Him in your soul. I say this because if you are not married by the Church, you should consider yourself opposing His will. And what is His will? To be in your life and above everything in your life. What God wills is good. I knew a faithful Catholic man that suffered a divorce, his wife left him, tremendous pains and I could hear his cries in the desert of the soul. He met a lady, and they eventually got married by the law of the land. Throughout this marriage he suffered much and almost died physically, but throughout remained faithful in trying to get right with God and eventually he was annulled, and was allowed to marry in the Church and now he has life in his soul, I can see the life, the body recovered some, or mostly doing well, but the soul IS ALIVE. We prayed today "It is right to praise you in Zion, O God" and where is Zion? Where God wills you to be. WE continue "You have visited the land and watered it;" ANd this is critical to what we heard about the rains having stopped for years over the land where they worshipped Baal, and the name Baal was said to mean "Cloud Rider" because the clouds brought rain and fertility to the land. And this false god had nothing to offer the people, except when our Lord appears and speaks through a prophet. This is your prophesying time, because if you are baptized in the Catholic Church, you are baptized a prophet and king. You must be the Lord that brings the drink to the thirsty, especially thirsty for truth, but also in the temporal, many are in great need, first attend their bodily needs then they can drink of the cup of the blood of faith. "...greatly have you enriched it. God's watercourses are filled; you have prepared the grain." Amen. The Lord of our lives speaks today and the truth is a soothing balm to the soul, and the balm heals the soul. "...whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment" Killing people is bad, and killing with hatred is just as bad because that's what aimed to kill the body, therefore this hatred is the instigator. I said yesterday we shouldn't teach this, but what if you unmarried couples are teaching others that this is a permissible way of life? You are teaching your children that being opposed to God is ok, sin. This may not set well, but it is what leads to homosexual unions and adultery and both which are tied. Binded to oppose life and God , our Lord Jesus is Life. Therefore, when God speaks about killing, there is much more at hand. ANd He continues "whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin" and this means putting someone down as you try to put someone in "their place". And calling someone stupid or a fool? "..whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna." Gehenna is hell, the fires that you will have to suffer for calling God a fool. AH HAA, getting scary? GOOD. Because we live in a world where laws of the land are nothing, compared to the laws of the Lord! Yesterday, someone was complaining about these young mothers that depend on government or others and "just keeping having kids and they can't even take care of them" and I just kept replying "it's not the kids' faults". It's this mentality that people shouldn't have children if they are not responsible that fuels the fire of the heresy of CONTRAception, against life. If the parent or parents are not responsible, it is not the children's fault, but this mentality says "sterilize them". No. Baptize them is the answer. Baptize them with the fire of God's love. You'll miss the whole point of the Gospel if you are not being repentetive, if you are not sincerely afflicted. When people curse or put down others it hurts my ears and my soul's ears. That is why I turn off politics and the presidential race because over and over the insults are like children (Immature Christians) fighting over a piece of candy that the devil is offering. The voice of truth is silenced, not that it is hushed but that the noise of the world is just so loud and the only way to hear God is to retreat into His heart. That is to say, those you find hard to love still have God inside, and all the noise you have to tune out. This is the focus on prayer, retreat, to listen. If our Mother Mary has taught us anything, this first saint and Christian, has taught us obedience and how to truly love God, Jesus. She drug herself through the streets in absolute pain when our Lord was struck with pains and death. Nobody else suffered this much, and that is because nobody else loved this much. Consider your pains now, is it for yourself...or for Christ? There will be one sentence said of your life when you die. For Mary it was "SHE REALLY REALLY REALLY LOVED GOD".